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How to Build a Successful Campus Ambassador Program to Attract Top Talent

Contrary to popular belief, your internship program isn’t the only way to create a pipeline of early career talent. 

Campus ambassador programs pose a win-win opportunity for brands and students. Students gain access to real-world experience, a steady paycheck, and networking opportunities; while companies create a pool of top talent and brand awareness. 

At the time of this writing, there are over 100,000 job postings on LinkedIn for brand ambassadors. According to Indeed, these jobs pay an average of nearly $20 an hour — considerably higher than many on-campus jobs. Plus, unlike many internship programs, which are restricted to the summer months, brand ambassador programs allow students to make money and gain business experience year-round. And with no set job hours, those funds and experience are made on the student’s own time, leaving plenty of wiggle room for studies and extracurriculars. 

For employers, brand ambassadors allow you to build connections with your talent community — and not just with those currently enrolled in the program. Think about it: If a brand ambassador has a positive experience with your company — expanding their resume while earning some much-needed cash on the side — they will tell their friends about it. Those friends, in turn, will likely join your talent community, thereby increasing your pool of top talent. 

In order for that positive experience to take place, your brand ambassadorship needs to be carefully constructed, not an afterthought. Below, we offer a number of tips to create a successful program and strengthen your talent pipeline. 

How to Create a Successful Campus Brand Ambassador Program in 5 Steps

Student brand ambassadors market brands within a specific geographical region — particularly, their own college campus. Ambassadors promote products or services through events, merchandise sales, running fair booths, or even posting on social media. In sum, they serve as the face of the brand, building awareness with their fellow students.

Creating a powerful brand ambassadorship is not unlike creating an effective internship program. Brand ambassadors are looking to make business connections and gain experience. To create a program that offers a mutually beneficial relationship for your company and your ambassadors, implement these tips: 

1. Offer Financial Incentives 

Yes, brand ambassadors are looking for valuable experience — but they’re also looking for a paycheck. 

Finances are a key concern amongst Gen Zers, even while still enrolled in undergrad. According to research conducted by Deloitte, nearly half (43%) of Gen Zers are forced to take a second job (either part- or full-time) in addition to their primary job just to make ends meet. In addition, the cost of living is the number one concern amongst young people, ranking above climate change, mental health, or even unemployment.

Between student loans, rent, and other bills, students are struggling to make ends meet. Therefore, consider adding financial incentives to ensure your brand ambassadors are cared for. Consider getting creative with compensation, offering a referral bonus or a tiered performance structure for your ambassadors. 

2. Create an Extensive Onboarding and Training Program

Students are drawn to brand ambassador programs because they fit seamlessly into their already-tight schedules. The drawback? Many times, brands hire ambassadors and say, “Go forth and conquer,” without any formal training.

Just because campus ambassadorships are remote doesn’t mean your company should skimp on onboarding. According to Gallup, a dismal 12% of employees agree their organization does a good job of onboarding new hires. Onboarding is an ambassador’s first impression of working for your company full-time. If it’s a negative experience, what makes you think they’d apply to your organization post-graduation?

Remember: Your brand ambassadorship might be a student’s first job. They’ll likely have a lot of questions, and want a formal guidebook on how to get started. Dedicate two-plus weeks at the beginning of your ambassador program to train your new hires, ensuring they have the tools necessary to succeed on the job.

3. Pair Each Ambassador With a Mentor 

Throughout your program, ambassadors will ask questions — questions they might not be comfortable asking to their direct supervisor.

To provide guidance, brainstorm new ideas, or share similar experiences, pair each ambassador with a mentor. The overwhelming majority (82%) of young people state they want to work under someone who cares about them and can relate to them on issues outside the workplace. Therefore, ensure each ambassador has someone they can tap for advice when needed.

Before you launch your mentorship program, be sure your full-time employees know how to mentor your ambassadors. Set objectives for the program, create a schedule for check-ins, and train mentors on how to respond to commonly-asked questions. Finally, ensure your mentors are fully educated in the areas of goal setting, performance measurement, and meeting management before their first encounter with their mentee.

4. Create Networking Opportunities for Your Cohort 

One of the most significant benefits of a brand ambassadorship is networking opportunities. However, it shouldn’t be strictly up to your ambassadors to form connections both on-and-off campus. 

Create opportunities for your ambassadors to build real-world connections. Organize both in-person and virtual meetups, happy hours, or even national retreats for all ambassadors in the program. In addition, give students the opportunity to meet full-time employees at different seniority levels. Invite your CEO to host a Q&A, ambassadors to meet with department leads, and organize meet and greets with other full-time employees.

After each event, be sure to check back with your ambassadors to see which aspects they enjoyed most, and what could be improved upon. Use a platform, like Abode, to collect and implement ambassador feedback to help revise your program for the better. 

5. Track Engagement for Your Ambassadors at Every Stage 

Before you launch, you should have clear goals for your program. These objectives should be clearly communicated to your ambassadors, with milestones and check-ins established. 

Leverage a platform like Abode to keep ambassadors engaged throughout the entire program. Send suggested reading materials, schedule meetups with mentors and other members of the cohort, and check in with ambassadors on a bi-weekly or monthly basis. The Abode platform automatically keeps track of which ambassadors are staying engaged on campus, completing action items, hitting various metrics, and taking advantage of what your program has to offer. 

Keep Ambassadors Engaged With Abode

Brand ambassador programs offer a win-win scenario for students and companies. While students gain access to marketing experience and a steady paycheck throughout the school year, companies create a steady pipeline of top talent. 

Before you launch an ambassador program, you need to set clear objectives and milestones. From there, companies should create in-person networking opportunities, build a mentorship program, offer financial incentives, and create a structured training program. By providing all of the above, you are most likely to set students up for success. 

Abode can create candidate journeys to keep each ambassador engaged while tracking performance on the backend. With Abode, you can build personalized journeys at scale, ensuring each ambassador has the tools they need to make an impact.

Ready to see how Abode can help build a successful campus ambassador program? Schedule a demo with us to get started.

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